What Do You Mean by the Term Email?
Email or e-mail means electronic mail. Same as a letter exchanged in a different way. Computers use the TCP/IP protocol suite to send email messages in the form of packets. The first thing you need to send and receive emails is an email address. When you create an account with an internet service provider you are usually given an email address to send from and receive emails.
You can create an email address/account at websites such as yahoo, google, hotmail and lycos. Email is one of the Internet’s oldest applications, and it’s the most widely used much like postal letters, except that they are delivered much faster than snail mail when sending over long distances. Like with regular mail, users may get a lot of unwanted mail. With e-mail, this is called spam. Some programs used for sending and receiving mail can detect spam and filter it out nearly completely.
To send or receive an email in the traditional way, one needs a device (computer, phone etc.) connected to the Internet and an e-mail program (simply called mailer). Several formats exist for email addresses. The most common, called RFC 2822, looks like [email protected] E-mail messages are sent mostly by text, and sometimes by HTML style.
Some companies let people send and receive emails for free from a remote website. Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! are among the many that do this kind of “web mail”. Webmail does not follow the pattern below exactly because the webpage is a web application and takes care of many details by itself. The traditional way uses a mailer, as is usual with smartphones.
Microsoft invented its own “communication protocol” (or set of rules) for sending and receiving mail, called “Exchange”. Exchange protocol works entirely differently from the traditional method and is not explained here.
The history of email extends over more than 50 years, entailing an evolving set of technologies and standards that culminated in the email systems we use today. Computer-based mail and messaging became possible with the advent of time-sharing computers in the early 1960s, and informal methods of using shared files to pass messages were soon expanded into the first mail systems.
Most developers of early mainframes and minicomputers developed similar, but generally incompatible, mail applications. Over time, a complex web of gateways and routing systems linked many of them. Many US universities were part of the ARPANET, which aimed at software portability between its systems. That portability helped make the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) increasingly influential.
For a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it seemed likely that either a proprietary commercial system or the X.400 email system, part of the Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile (GOSIP), would predominate. However, once the final restrictions on carrying commercial traffic over the Internet ended in 1995, a combination of factors made the current Internet suite of SMTP, POP3 and IMAP email protocols the standard.